A Conversation with Derek M Ballard, Eros Cartoon Master

May 12th, 2009 by RR Anderson


We came across the works of Derek M Ballard on a flickr stream an age ago. Possibly some of the most provocative erotic/underground zine work we’ve ever seen.  According to his myspace page his heroes are listed ” SHE-RA, HE-MAN, THUNDARR, JAYCE AND THE WHEELED WARRIORS…y’know, motherf**kers who don’t put up with bullshit.” The CLAW was lucky enough to catch up with Mr. Ballard for this brief and haunting interview.  Enjoy!

CLAW: Describe your methods of art production?  Do you use a wacom tablet directly in Photoshop? Or do you sketch then pen+ink first?

DMB: Usually, I have no idea what I’m trying to do. I start out by just drawing lots of random shapes with pencil. From there I can assemble the shapes into different things on my light table, and trace them onto vellum for inking. Once I’m done, I scan the images into Photoshop, clean up, and color.
I’ve never actually used a wacom before. It’s funny, a lot of people think I do. I wouldn’t even know how to begin.


CLAW: One of the striking things about your work is your I would describe as cubist-exaggerated characters & environments… is this style tied to any philosophical agenda?  Is there a better way to describe your signature cartooning style? (I think your art is ultra-awesome)

DMB: As a teenager I was a big fan of Thomas Hart Benton, Egon Schiele, and Max Beckmann. I was really into German expressionism in film, too. So, that stuff probably shows up a lot in my work.

As far as a philosophical agenda, I would rather not go into it too much and sound pretentious. I like to leave things open for each person’s own interpretation. I will say there’s a lot sub-level of stuff going on, lots of layers, and an intentional calculated placement of subjects, but I’m sure doesn’t come through for anyone but myself.


CLAW: A colleague once told me that the worst clients were church groups and tv stations. Tell our readers about your experiences with the adult entertainment publications…  Is this a niche market worth pursuing?

DMB: Working with adult publications was just about the best job ever. SCREW in particular was an amazing mag. I’m always surprised you don’t hear it mentioned more often. Fantagraphic’s EROS line paid well, too.  Unfortunately, the internet killed the demand for printed masturbation material and ads for hookers.

It’s good work if you can get it. I think Hustler Humor might still publish, and they have decent page rates.
I was fortunate enough to catch the last bit of the cartoonist’s gravy train for the better part of the last century that was porno mags. Life goes on I guess.


CLAW: Tell us about your zine projects.  Do you find zines to be the best choice to communicate with cult followers?

DMB: The dirty, DIY small press stuff is way more fulfilling to me. Plus, it’s really satisfying to put out work on a regular basis. Mini-comics and zines are the best option I have right now to serialize my work.
I enjoy everything about zines and mini-comics anyway. That’s where my interests lie. They just feel more real, more exciting, and more fun.


You can find all the coolest drawing in zines, and I LOVE drawing. If you look at all the zines I’ve been in you can see that they’re full of people who really enjoy it as well.
Nobody’s paying anyway, so why not do the cool stuff?
I’m just sayin’.


CLAW: Any other advice you’d like to share with our members and other aspiring cartoonists?

Be happy.
Work a lot.
Do your own thing.
Make good decisions.
Use your time wisely.
Use your time wisely.
Use your time wisely.
Use your time wisely.
Be radical always.

CLAW: Citizens! The adventure doesn’t have to stop here. Keep up to speed with Mr. Ballard’s adventures via Myspace and Flickr


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